Charles Leclerc took center stage in a stunning cornering battle at the opening qualifying session for the Miami Grand Prix, title rival Max Verstappen finished third on the grid – while Carlos Sainz held Ferrari one and two back.
Leclerc joined the first two qualifying sessions, but Verstappen was getting close, ending a runway in the top 10 shootouts. Q3 saw the champion temporarily take the cornering but Leclerc overtook him with a final pole time of 1m and 28.796s, and Sainz finished second by 0.190sec.
As it happened: All the action from qualifying for the Miami Grand Prix
Verstappen made a mistake on his last lap and finished third at the finish, 0.005 seconds behind Sainz, while his Red Bull teammate Sergio Perez secured a P4.
Valtteri Bottas, Ferrari’s new power unit in his Alfa Romeo, delivered a P5 – ahead of Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton, who finished sixth despite having to enter a fast final lap in Q1 to avoid elimination.
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Pierre Gasly and Yuki Tsunoda both reached the third quarter for AlphaTauri, the seventh qualifying Frenchman and the ninth Japanese driver. Lando Norris was between them eighth in the qualifiers despite finishing third in the second quarter. Lance Stroll rounded out the top ten for Aston Martin.
Alpine’s Fernando Alonso missed Q3 in P11, ahead of George Russell Mercedes – who dealt with fierce porpoises in Q2 – while Sebastian Vettel was disappointed to get a P13 in favor of Aston Martin. Daniel Ricciardo due to gear shift issues put him 14th on the grid for McLaren, while Mick Schumacher last was in the second quarter, finishing in P15 on Saturday.
His Haas teammate Kevin Magnussen (P16) missed the second quarter by quarter, and Alfa Romeo’s Zhou Guanyu earned a P17 after being jeopardized by traffic on his last lap. Neither Williams drivers made it out of the first quarter, while Alex Albon got a P18 and Nicholas Latifi finished 19th.
Esteban Ocon did not participate in qualifying after the FP3 crash and is likely to start Sunday’s Grand Prix from the pit lane.
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2022 Miami GP Qualifiers: Leclerc snatches first place as Ferrari’s front row closeout
as it happened
Q1 – Leclerc hits first as Hamilton avoids sudden applause
Miami had plenty of drama still to offer after three action-packed practice sessions, and Esteban Ocon missed out on qualifying after an FP3 crash – meaning there will be 19 drivers participating in the first-ever Miami Grand Prix qualifying session.
Verstappen set the first benchmark in Q1 but times faltered, Charles Leclerc beat him to climb with a time of 1m and 29.474s, then the Red Bull driver improved to take second by 0.362sec. Carlos Sainz was third, six tenths behind his teammate, while Perez finished fourth, another tenths behind.
Lewis Hamilton gave up his first attempt and a later lap for the track boundary was omitted, putting the Mercedes driver in the relegation zone over time. But he jumped from P18 to P5 with his last-gasp effort, and was also joined by Alpine’s Fernando Alonso in Q2 with a belated advert for P6.
Lance Stroll was a surprising seventh place for Aston Martin, keeping his fast Yuki Tsunoda by half a tenth, while Mercedes’ George Russell (P9) and McLaren’s Daniel Ricciardo finished in the top ten.
Mick Schumacher, Sebastian Vettel, Lando Norris and Pierre Gasly managed to exit the first quarter along with Alfa Romeo driver Valtteri Bottas, who finished 15th at the expense of Haas’ Kevin Magnussen.
Along with Magnussen, frustrated Alfa Romeo rookie Zhou Guanyu – who was knocked out of his last effort by traffic – were eliminated as were Williams drivers Alex Albon (P18 due to inadequate tire warm-up) and Nicholas Latifi (P19).
Kicked off: Magnussen, Chu, Albon, Latifi
Q2 – Leclerc piles on pressure as clash erupts in midfield
Fifteen drivers remain, Ferrari ahead of Red Bull with its tenacity and tenacity in equal measure. Both Ferraris featured the soft materials used; Both Red Bulls are on a fresh soft start to the session. The first forays saw Verstappen lead with a time of 1m 29.202sec and Perez in second by 0.471sec, and Ferraris trailed in third and fourth.
In the makeshift landing zone were Stroll, Schumacher, Vettel, Ricciardo and Russell, who backed off two attempts with the car thickly laden with porpoises. With six minutes left, Russell was still in P15 with no time on the board; Ricciardo was 14th thanks to a gear shift problem on his lap.
Additional laps will see a change of group, Scuderia’s re-emergence for Leclerc to climb to the top again with a time of 1m 29.130sec, now 0.072sec behind Verstappen. Norris jumped to P3 with a late flyer, 0.504 seconds off pace, dropping Perez to P4 and Sainz to P5.
Bottas climbed to sixth ahead of former teammate Hamilton while Stroll grabbed the secured third quarter for the first time since the Turkish Grand Prix, in P8. The duo of AlphaTauri Tsunoda (P9) and Gasly (P10) also reached the third quarter.
That means Alonso (who felt held back by compatriot Carlos Sainz) missed him by just 0.032sec – and Russell finished P12 amid a hard hog, 0.013sec off the two-time champion. Although Vettel improved, he was only four hundred away in P13 after making a foul at chicane. Ricciardo managed only P14, having fallen behind on the track in his final career, while Schumacher wrapped up the top 15 for Haas.
Sending off: Alonso, Russell, Vettel, Ricciardo, Schumacher
Q3 – Verstappen and Leclerc face off and Sainz enters the fray
The last ten consisted of seven teams, and Haas, Williams and Alpine only lost the third quarter. And while Verstappen was getting close to Leclerc, this seemed to be the first place for the championship leader to lose.
But the first efforts saw Verstappen breaking P1 with a time of 1m and 28.991, with Leclerc only 0.064s and Sainz 0.080s in the fray for the provisional pole. Perez’s first effort put him half a second behind in P4.
The tension was at its peak on the last flying lap of the third quarter, and Perez allowed Verstappen to pass as the Red Bull duo warmed up. Verstappen was now in the pole’s driving seat.
Leclerc improved in Sector 1, putting a second sector purple, but couldn’t improve in Sector Three. However, that would be enough for a final time of 1m 28.796sec and 1st as a frustrated Verstappen made a mistake and backed off his final effort.
Sainz jumped to second, denying Verstappen a front row start and notching a Ferrari one and two in Miami, and the Dutchman slipped to third, ahead of teammate Perez.
Bottas finished the top five, ahead of Hamilton, while Gasly finished seventh. And despite his championships in the second quarter, Norris settled on P8. Tsunoda (P9) and Stroll will start in the top ten in the inaugural Miami Grand Prix.
“It’s unbelievable to be here in the States and to see how much the sport has grown over the past few years and to see so many people in the grandstand. It definitely motivates us and there are also so many Ferrari fans. It’s amazing. So last weekend wasn’t great. For me, I made a mistake in the race but it went well today, so we started in pole position and need to finish the job tomorrow.
“[Red Bull] We’re very fast in a straight line, we’re fast in corners and it’s going to be a tough challenge tomorrow, and hopefully we can come out on top” – Charles Leclerc, Ferrari
The first Grand Prix takes place in Miami on Sunday at 1530 local time, with Leclerc leading teammate Sainz on the front row ahead of Verstappen and Perez. Don’t miss it – head to Racing Center See how you can catch up on all the action – and stay tuned on F1.com all the time.